The Big Short is the compelling, although inescapably complex, story of the US housing market crash of 2007-8 that was caused by the greed and incompetence of the banks. The film follows the men who saw it coming and bet against the banks, making millions. This is an extremely fast-paced film with a vibrant cast and sharp visuals that cause mounting tension throughout the film, allowing for a thoroughly enjoyable watch.
Although a film about the housing crisis might not sound particularly exciting to most, every effort is made to make the film watchable and understandable. Ryan Gosling’s Jared Vennett immediately breaks the fourth wall and explains to the viewer how the housing market essentially works. This continues throughout the film with the help of some seemingly random yet entertaining cameos from celebrities. Of course in order to accurately portray the financial crises, the film is still filled with a huge amount of technical terms and complex concepts that in some parts confuse and convolute the story, making it difficult to follow. The many different and mostly unlinked character groups also add to the confusion, making it difficult to remember who is who.
The stand out performance in the film is undoubtably that of Steve Carrell, whose Mark Baum is tortured by the knowledge of what he sees coming. He is increasingly disturbed not only by the level of corruption he uncovers, but also by the fact that he is profiting from it. It is through him and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) that the gravity of the situation is portrayed. As Mark Baum grapples with losing his faith in humanity as he uncovers the extent of the banks incompetence, so do we. As the characters come to realise the colossal consequences of the banks reckless actions on everyday people, so do we.
While this may be in part a comedy, it is certainly far from a happy film. The edgy and enjoyable humour is inextricably linked with a palpable sense of bitterness and loathing. It is also far from a feel-good success story.
By the end of the film, there is an overriding sense of sadness both in the characters and the audience. The collapse caused millions of innocent people to lose their jobs, houses, and in some cases their lives, and this is skilfully made poignant by the end of the film, so much so it is very hard not to be affected. Overall, The Big Short not only entertains, but resonates as an informative depiction of an event that affected so many lives.
Is it worth watching?
+ Very watchable
The Big Short is the most compelling, film that could be made about the housing market but, it’s still a film about the housing market…
Watch the trailer for The Big Short
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